Winning the Battle Against Daily Distractions

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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I love daily routines. For me, having a set of habits and to-do projects waiting to be tackled helps me feel grounded when the world’s events are in turmoil. And more importantly, daily routines keep my mind focused on things other than my ALS.

What I don’t love are disruptions, interruptions, and the inevitable challenges, both big and small, that chip away at my patience, energy, and precious time. Everything from emails to news stories and nearby conversations have the potential to throw my focus off.

But I have a few trusty strategies I rely on that help me navigate my day’s ups and downs, including a new mental game that I’m eager to share with you.

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How interruptions affect our health

We all want control over our life, how it unfolds, and what we choose to do.

Stress reduction experts agree that our perceived quality of life is related to the amount of control we feel we have over our lives.

Lack of control can lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and depression. This not only is experienced by ALS patients but also their caregivers as well.

Routines are good, but they don’t last forever

Sometimes it’s not the fault of the interruptions, but the routine that needs to be changed. As I wrote in the column “Evaluating What’s Working in My Life, and What’s Not,” I stop and take a good look at what I’m doing, and how I’m doing it.

Living with ALS, I’ve learned that my symptoms may progress without me noticing the change. Rather than depend on a potential unsafe workaround, I’m willing to invent a better and safer routine, even if it means I’ll get less done at one time.

Self-care minis to the rescue

When I’m moving in the “Slow Lane of ALS,” dealing with interruptions, and feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, I’ll stop and devote a few minutes to me.

It’s amazing how taking several slow deep breaths, adjusting my body posture, and resting my eyes can fill me with restful energy. Soon I’m ready to continue on.

‘Dagmar,’ the movie

My husband and I enjoy an evening watching the latest streaming movies. Often, we’ll get hooked on a series, with each episode ending with a cliff-hanger. Well, that’s the frame of my new mental game. When the day is filled with challenges, I imagine myself starring in my own hero movie.

For example, I’ll think, “In today’s episode, our hero, Dagmar, will attempt to finish writing her weekly column despite facing numerous, unexpected emails needing immediate replies, a husband needing help with his computer, and a neighbor stopping by to chat. Will she complete her tasks?”

Then I spend the day looking forward to all the ways life is putting me to the test. If I don’t get everything accomplished, I know there’s always time for another episode tomorrow.

Disruptions, interruptions, and challenges will continue to come and go throughout our days. If we find ways to remain in control, practice self-care, and even go as far as pretending our life is a movie, we can navigate the challenges of living well while we live with ALS.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Darlene Fernandes avatar

Darlene Fernandes

I appreciate your comments as it helps me to decide what to do with my life besides sit here and be depressed. I’m 74 and was diagnosed with ALS about six months ago. The most depressing thing is not being able to do things are used to do. My hands and arms don’t work as well as they did its very hard for me to do anything around the house but I think I will maybe go along with what you were saying about setting priorities and trying to give time to at least complete something. Thank you and hope you have a great day Darlene Fernandes

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Darlene, thank you for your positive comments. Yes, it is so hard adjusting to not being able to do things "the same way" as before ALS. I've found being more efficient in my priorities (asking "is this thing really that important, or can it wait") and learning to live in the Slow Lane of ALS is helpful.
Hope you have a great day today, no matter what you get done... you've done something! :-)

Carol Timm avatar

Carol Timm

Maybe I have a different ALS. My routine is waiting for my care giver (husband) to provide my care. I do not, talk, swallow food, walk, bathe myself, comb my hair ,brush my hair, lift more than 8 ounces with right hand, oh well what the heck I am just waiting to die. Is that a routine? CST

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Carol, I am sorry to learn of your circumstances... we have the same ALS, mine hasn't progressed as far along as yours has... but I know mine will someday. The fact that you were able to type this comment (eye-gaze software?) is positive! You CAN communicate... and should keep doing so. Perhaps this column I wrote about the ALS Waiting Room will be of help:

I invite you to my ALS and Wellness Blog. Hope it will give you inspiration and - - be sure to read the ones about ALS humor! I would be pleased if these bring a smile to you.

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